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Southern Gardening - Potpourri for February

NOTE: There was an error in the printed version of the February 2021 Alabama Gazette. We accidentally reprinted the January article. This has been corrected online.

February is often called the transition month, moving the world forward toward spring and away from the dark winter months. Notice that the days are getting longer, but we still have cold weather which I term any temperatures below 50 degrees. I just love the mild weather of the Deep South where nights can get below freezing but daytime temps are in the high 50s. It is rare that we have to contend with heavy snow and ice, which takes its toll on not only winter flowers and plants, but our backs if we have to shovel snow. Let's not forget to mention that February is also the month of love. Perhaps a homegrown valentine gift would be more personal. Go out to your garden and cut a fragrant bouquet of narcissus and other early blooming bulbs such as tulips or crocus. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for these harbingers of spring.

TIME TO DEBUG YOUR YARD AND GARDEN. I have, over the years, promoted spraying Volk Oil, a dormant oil, after the first hard freeze. We have had that and most of the area's shrubs and trees fall into this dormant category. The window of opportunity is now until the first of March. You will need a hose end sprayer, which can reach 20 feet upwards, in order to coat the trunks and branches of deciduous trees and shrubs such as hydrangeas, roses, oaks, cedars. And it is even more important to cover the leaves of non deciduous trees and shrubs such as azaleas, camellias, kiss me at the gate, mahonia, yucca, nandina, viburnum, sago palm, boxwood, pittosporum, yew, cherry laurel, gardenia, hollies and many more, because insects can lay more eggs on the leaves. Of course a deciduous plant is one that loses its leaves during dormant or winter months. I spray fences, grass, and anything that can harbor insect eggs. Once this is completed, no white flies, fleas, and best of, it will make a dent in the population of roaches. How does this spraying accomplish the task? It is a simple answer: the oil coats the eggs of the pests, and therefore, the eggs do not hatch.


This drought resistance woody stemmed flowering plant has the charming name of "Baby' Breath". A perennial, it thrives in sunny, well-drained situations and best of all, they thrive in lime soil. Once it matures, the plant spreads and makes a wonderful filler in the garden beds. Baby's Breath, G. paniculata, revels in a cloud of tiny white single flowers that can be cut and used in flower arrangements. A larger variety, called "Bristol Fairy, gets to 3 feet in height with double blooms. It is rare to find these plants in local nurseries or the box store gardens department. However, garden catalogs feature these plants.



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